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Breaking Bad News Assignment (15%)

Scenario: Who wouldnt want to a cashmere zip turtleneck sweater for $18? At the J. Crew Website, many delighted shoppers scrambled to order this unbelievable bargain. Unfortunately, the $18 price was an interns typing errorthe sweater should have been listed for $218! Before the J. Crew officials could correct the mistake, over a thousand keen e-shoppers had bagged the item in their digital shopping carts. When the mistake was discovered, J. Crew immediately went into damage control and drafted an email to the soon-to-be disappointed shoppers. The subject line shouted, BIG MISTAKE!!!!! Emily Woods, the V.P. of Online Business at J. Crew, began her message with this statement: I wish we could sell such an amazing sweater for only $18. Our price mistake on your new cashmere zip neck sweater probably went right by you, but rather than charge you such a large difference, Im writing to alert you that this item has been removed from your recent order. Of course, you are free to re-order this item at its regular price of $218. As an assistant in the communication department at J. Crew, you saw a draft of the message that was going to be sent to customers, and you tactfully suggested to your manager that the bad news should be broken differently. Intrigued by your suggestion, your manager has entrusted you with composing a better bad news message. Your Task: Using the principles that have been discussed in this weeks (Week 9) presentation, write an email that uses the indirect approach to breaking bad news. Your message should thus contain the following four parts: 1. 2. 3. 4. A buffer that prepares the reader for the bad news Reasons that explain or justify the bad news Strategies that cushion the blow of the bad news A closing that shows goodwill towards the disappointed customers

In the end, J. Crew decided to allow customers who ordered the sweater at $18 to reorder it for $118.80 to $130.80 depending on the size (larger sizes cost more). Customers would be given a special discount code to use at the checkout (you can make it up). As a bonus, if customers purchased additional items and their total order was over $218 (the cashmere sweater`s regular price), J. Crew would waive the shipping fee. For customers who may not want to reorder the sweater at the discounted price, think of another way to address their disappointment. Important Notes: For this assignment, you will need to bring together the various writing techniques and principles that you have learned this term. Remember to do the following things in your message: Be concise: eliminate unnecessary wordiness (flabby expressions, long lead-ins, redundant words, empty words) and only say what is essential to your message. Be clear: ensure that your message is not clouded by trite business expressions, clichs, slang/pretentious words, buried verbs, etc.

Consider your audience: J. Crew customers are young, and like to think theyre hip, so keep the tone of your message upbeat (but at the same time professional). Consider formatting: use the principles of document design (typeface, fonts, white space, headings, lists, etc.) to ensure that your message looks attractive and is easy to read. Remember the details: use the specific details in the scenario. You may supply any additional information you need to complete the assignment.

Grading: This assignment is worth 15% of your final grade. Please consult the attached rubric that I will use to evaluate your assignments. Use the rubric as a checklist to ensure that your message meets all the requirements. Due Date: Submit your assignment in the appropriate dropbox by 11:59pm on Sunday, March 30, 2014. As always, please include your last name in the filename you use. Submissions that do not follow this request will be penalized one (1) mark.

Breaking Bad News Assignment Grading Rubric

Students Name:
Email Format Email contains address block with guide words (To:, From:, Subject:) Email is sent from a business appropriate email address Subject line is completed with a concise statement that describes the messages topic/contents Email contains an appropriate greeting Body paragraphs are properly formatted (paragraphs are left justified with no indents, paragraph is single-spaced, double-space between paragraphs, etc.) Email contains a signature block with the senders name and appropriate contact information (Note: assume that the message is being sent by Emily Woods, V.P. of Online Business) Step 1: Buffering Message begins with a buffer that prepares the reader for the bad news Buffer uses at least three (3) different techniques listed in the slide presentation (best news, compliment, appreciation, agreement, facts, understanding) Step 2: Reasoning Message provides a clear explanation and/or justification of the bad news Explanation uses at least two (2) different techniques listed in the slide presentation (explain benefits, explain company policy, choose positive words, show fairness) Step 3: Cushioning Bad news is strategically placed in the middle of a body paragraph (not in a paragraphs beginning or ending sentence) Bad news is delivered in a subordinate clause and in the passive voice Positive words are used in the delivery of the bad news Message offers a compromise or alternative to mitigate the bad news Step 4: Closing Message closes pleasantly with an attempt to maintain positive relations with the customer Closing uses at least three (3) different techniques listed in the presentation (forward look, alternative follow-up, good wishes, freebies, resale) 6 marks

/15

4 marks

3 marks

5 marks

4 marks

Professionalism Message contains no spelling/grammatical errors Message is written in an upbeat, but professional, tone Message is limited to 1 page maximum (not including address and signature blocks)

3 marks

Total Deductions (if any)


Message is overly wordy (flabby expressions, long lead-ins, redundant words, empty words): 1 mark penalty Message is unclear (trite business expressions, clichs, slang/pretentious words, buried verbs, etc.): 1 mark penalty Message does not use the principles of document design (typeface, fonts, white space, headings, lists, etc.) and is unattractive and/or difficult to read: 1 mark penalty

/25

Grand Total

/25

Final Grade (Grand Total

25) x 15

/15